Joshua Roman announced as artist-in-residence for the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s new Arts & Impact Residency
By Janna Karel
More than a year ago, the Las Vegas Philharmonic began brainstorming an artist in residency program that would take live performance out of the concert hall and into shopping centers, medical offices and parking lots.
While the concept was still in its infancy, Huszcza reached out to world-class cellist and TED Fellow Joshua Roman about being a part of the multiyear Arts and Impact Residency.
“Joshua was the first person who came to mind,” says Huszcza. “He has an incredibly wide worldview and in-depth perspective and a unique ability to talk about music and bring it out of the concert hall and into life in powerful, exciting ways. We went to him with this vague concept and let him help us imagine what the program could be.”
Roman’s efforts to bring music into more accessible spaces has led to him performing in schools, at HIV and AIDS centers and, in 2006, at Ugandan refugee camps.
“All of these people in the camp were experiencing incredible, desolate poverty, and had no classical musical training,” remembers Roman. “But they laughed at Mozart’s jokes. They got it. They had no expectations and they paid attention. I mean, I read that Mozart was a prankster in his music, but I never actually listened to it. I don’t like the notion that you can’t appreciate a great piece of art just because you haven’t studied the form.”
Now that The Smith Center is closed, possibly until a vaccine becomes available, the Las Vegas Philharmonic is in need of alternative venues in which musicians can perform.
“We’re brainstorming about different places like Container Park or the little stage at Fergusons Downtown. Having music in different spaces changes your relationship to the space and the music in really fresh and exciting ways,” says Huszcza. “But it’s hard to think out of the box that you’ve been in for so long. It helps to partner with artists who have already broken out of that box.”
The idea is not to replicate The Smith Center in other settings, but rather to complement the traditional concert in spaces that reframe how the music is experienced.
Roman is slated to make the first appearance of his three-year residency on Oct. 16, at the season opener, a concert that is made tentative by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think people are really going to hunger for that live, in-person experience. I miss it for sure,” says Roman. “And rather than just waiting for it to happen and hitting pause, let’s spend some time reflecting on what makes it great. While we can’t do that kind of performance, how else can we connect?”